Hazing Incident Leaves Student Permanently Blind, Unable To Speak Or Walk (2024)

By Farina E

Published on May 17, 2024

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The family of Danny Santulli, a student who was left permanently blind and unable to speak or walk after a hazing incident, is issuing a dire warning about the dangers of such practices.

In October 2021, during a fraternity event at Phi Gamma Delta, 19-year-old Santulli suffered cardiac arrest and severe brain damage after being compelled to consume a large quantity of alcohol, including a 1.75-liter bottle of Tito's vodka and beer funneled through a tube, as reported by The Independent.

Santulli was forced to drink excessive amounts of alcohol, leaving him incapacitated and unable to see, speak, or walk.

Hazing Incident Leaves Student Permanently Blind, Unable To Speak Or Walk (1)

This tragic incident occurred during a pledge night, a common practice in fraternities where new members undergo rituals before official acceptance.

Disturbingly, footage from that night, which was shown in court, depicted Santulli unconscious on a sofa.

Legal documents reveal the extreme conditions pledges faced, including being provided with cocaine, marijuana, and being coerced into continuous alcohol consumption. Those who resisted were derogatorily pressured with taunts.

The lawsuit further reads: "Making matters worse, during the pledging process, Danny had been ordered to climb inside of a trash can that had broken glass in it."

According to the lawsuit, the fraternity house was stocked with 'c**aine, m*ijuana, and alcohol' to ensure the night was one they 'wouldn't forget'. The documents also state that pledges were derogatorily labeled as 'p*****s' if they failed to continue drinking from bottles of vodka that were strapped to their hands.

For a month, Danny Santulli was relentlessly at the mercy of his fraternity brothers as he underwent the demanding initiation rituals required for acceptance. His sister recalls him expressing his exhaustion and frustration just two nights before the tragic incident, saying he had 'had enough'.

The lawsuit details the conditions he endured: "He was sleep deprived, had to buy things for the fraternity brothers with his own money and was repeatedly ordered to clean the brothers' rooms and bring food, alcohol, and m**ijuana to them at all hours of the night," as reported by the Daily Mail.

Tragically, despite clear signs of distress, no help was called when Santulli collapsed from severe alcohol poisoning, his blood alcohol content a life-threatening 0.486, six times the legal driving limit.

The consequences were devastating. Hospitalized immediately after the event, Santulli's health quickly worsened, leading to permanent brain damage. He now requires continual medical care, with costs already surpassing $2 million.

Hazing Incident Leaves Student Permanently Blind, Unable To Speak Or Walk (2)

Danny Santulli now lives with permanent disabilities as a result of the incident, including blindness, an inability to speak, and reliance on a wheelchair for mobility due to severe brain injuries he sustained.

Among those held responsible is Ryan P. Delanty, who has admitted his guilt and faces a six-month jail sentence, as reported by the Daily Mail. His sentencing is set for May 24. Delanty's lawyer, Stephanie Fortus, stated that her client is relieved to have reached a resolution that avoids a trial.

Following the incident, the fraternity involved was closed down, and Santulli's family filed a lawsuit, leading to a settlement with the fraternity and its members.

Other members of the fraternity, including Samuel Gandhi and Alec Wetzler, also faced legal consequences, pleading guilty for their involvement in the hazing that took place in October 2021.

Thomas Shultz, another member of the fraternity, pleaded guilty to providing alcohol to a minor. His sentence includes a 30-day jail term, probation, community service, and he is required to attend educational programs on substance abuse.

Hazing Incident Leaves Student Permanently Blind, Unable To Speak Or Walk (3)

"Hazing is a form of initiation that occurs when new members enter certain social groups, most often characterised by degrading, humiliating, or dangerous tasks and behaviours. Hazing is typically associated with student organisations such as university fraternities and sororities," according to Brittanica.

The University of Missouri has stated: "Hazing is opposed by all sororities and fraternities at UMKC and is not tolerated. UMKC and all national and international headquarters have strict anti-hazing policies that all chapters must adhere to."

Santulli's family has now issued a public warning about the dangers of hazing practices.

"It makes me sick to my stomach seeing the people involved that harmed Danny walking around campus, acting like they did nothing wrong," his sister Meredith told ABC News.

His mother, Mary Pat Santulli, expressed her dismay at the inaction of those present during the incident: "Just the fact that they knew he was in distress and his lips were blue, and nobody called 911. It's, like, I don't know. I mean a six-year-old calls 911."

"He'll need care for life. He's still not talking or walking. He's in a wheelchair. He lost his vision but he hears us, and he knows we're there and we'll just keep fighting, and we're not gonna give up hope."

Hazing Incident Leaves Student Permanently Blind, Unable To Speak Or Walk (2024)

FAQs

Hazing Incident Leaves Student Permanently Blind, Unable To Speak Or Walk? ›

Daniel Santulli was only 19 years old when he was found inside a car in cardiac arrest and with alcohol poisoning at University Hospital in October 2021. Daniel survived the ordeal but was left blinded and unable to walk or speak as a result. The incident was a result of 'hazing'.

What is a recent case of hazing in the news and how did it affect the victim? ›

In March 2022, a Rutgers University freshman fell down stairs and fractured his skull after drinking “life-threatening amounts of alcohol” as part of pledge-hazing activities at Theta Chi fraternity, according to a lawsuit he filed seven months later against Rutgers, the fraternity, and various other named defendants.

What student was in a coma after hazing? ›

Former San Diego University student says hazing put him in a coma. A former San Diego State University student is suing the school after a hazing incident "almost killed him" and left him in a coma, according to a new lawsuit.

Who was the college student hazing brain damage? ›

Former University of Missouri frat member pleads guilty in hazing that caused brain damage. Catch up on the developing stories making headlines. COLUMBIA, Mo. -- A former member of a University of Missouri fraternity has pleaded guilty in the hazing of another student that caused blindness and significant brain damage.

How is Danny Santulli doing? ›

The incident caused severe brain damage, leaving Santulli unable to walk, speak, or see. "Danny's doing as well as he can. But his condition has not substantially changed.

What are the consequences of hazing for the person being hazed? ›

Post-traumatic stress syndrome. Loss of respect for and interest in being part of the organization. Erosion of trust within the group members. Illness or hospitalization with additional effects on family and friends.

What are 2 consequences of targets of hazing? ›

Impact on the person being hazed

These consequences may include but are not limited to: Physical, emotional, and/or mental instability. Sleep deprivation. Loss of sense of control and empowerment.

Who is the first victim of hazing? ›

Gonzalo Mariano Albert — 1954

A member of the Upsilon Sigma Phi at the University of the Philippines (UP), Albert is considered the first hazing-related death in the country. He died in 1954 during the fraternity's initiation rights. Late president Ramon Magsaysay had even formed a committee to investigate his death.

What is the most common cause of death in hazing? ›

Alcohol poisoning is the biggest cause of death.

How many students have died from hazing? ›

Since January 2000, over 100 people have lost their lives due to hazing activities in the United States. Of those, 60 were related to substance use, nearly always alcohol. Participating in drinking games is the most frequently reported hazing behavior among college students.

Does hazing cause PTSD? ›

This cohort study analyzed data from 1463 combat-deployed soldiers and found that reports of being bullied or hazed during deployment were significantly associated with major depressive disorder, intermittent explosive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts, and substance use disorder.

How bad is college hazing? ›

It can even be deadly. Hazing, however, often impacts more than the group or individual involved. In higher education, hazing is at odds with educational goals as it can harm students and contribute to abusive campus climates, negative publicity, and student attrition.

Is hazing evil? ›

It is not necessary to haze new members in order to challenge them. Myth: Hazing only “a little bit” is not really that bad. Reality: While there are more and less severe forms of hazing, even low level hazing crosses the line. Even a “l*ttle” hazing can have an unintended negative impact on new members.

What happened to Phat Nguyen? ›

Seven additional individuals have been charged with hazing resulting in death after Phat Nguyen, an MSU business college student, died of alcohol intoxication in 2021 at a welcome event at the now-disbanded Pi Alpha Phi fraternity.

What frat was Danny Santulli in? ›

A former member of a University of Missouri fraternity was sentenced on August 3 after pleading guilty to charges related to the hazing of Daniel Santulli. Santulli, who was 18-years-old at the time, took part in a Phi Gamma Delta fraternity ritual called "pledge dad reveal night" on Oct.

Where does Danny Santulli live? ›

Santulli now lives at home with his parents in Minnesota, as he requires full-time care. He is no longer able to see, talk, or walk. According to the family, medical bills have exceeded $2 million.

What is an example of a hazing incident? ›

Some Examples: Forced or coerced alcohol or other drug consumption. Beating, paddling, or other forms of assault. Branding.

What is a hazing case? ›

Hazing includes but is not limited to any brutality of a physical nature, such as paddling, whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, liquor, drug or other substance, or any other forced physical activity that would subject the individual to physical ...

How many people have died from hazing since 2000? ›

Alcohol and Hazing: The Facts

Now, it's one of the most major [causes of hazing-related deaths]." Since January 2000, over 100 people have lost their lives due to hazing activities in the United States. Of those, 60 were related to substance use, nearly always alcohol.

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